• culture,  fashion,  womens issues

    English Summer – Day In The Garden

    + How To Communicate Romantic Appeal

    Dear readers, in the past I have mostly written about the clothing and lifestyle habits that we as women instinctively love. We are grown women who dress for ourselves, thank you very much! However today’s topic is a little different. Aimed at my heterosexual female readers, I discuss some of the habits regarding dress and grooming that are conducive to attraction. Here are 8 areas in which women can improve their attractiveness to the opposite sex.

    Location: Queen Mary’s Gardens.

    1. Photography

    To capture your body and spirit in the most flattering light, consider hiring professional photographers. There is a booming industry of photographers on Facebook and Instagram waiting to transform your image. If you are lucky to have talented sisters, mums, or girlfriends, enlist their help in capturing you at your best. Taking photographs for others is a labour of love, it may take 10 shots to get a good one, so I often repay others’ kindness by taking their photographs too.

    ↑ My friend Joy looks absolutely gorgeous and comfortable outfitted in creamy custard yellow.

    2. Written Content

    Whether you are funny, intellectual, down to earth, lighthearted, or ALL of the above, make sure your amazing personality, personal passions and religious priorities are clearly communicated in your social media posts. Everybody has negative or frustrating past experiences, consider communicating these in an inspirational or even funny tone of voice.

    ↑ Summer garden attire that isn’t sportswear. High-end designers items are obviously very covetable, but I adore high street and affordable vintage offerings just the same. The top and skirt were a surprise discount find. My handbag is pre-loved from the 1960s.

    3. Body Language

    I love good eye contact. It communicates honesty and directness. However, in dating there are other types of glances that are particularly useful. Consider tilting your head down, or looking away, this allows for traditional male capacity to chase. When you seem to be minding your own business is when others seem to be most attracted to you. Looking back at these photos now, we should definitely have smiled as well! Women are not passive, helpless creatures. But unfortunately as governed by traditional dating theory, men chase and women are chosen. I believe one of our great powers is in who we accept.

    4. Clothing, Shoes, Jewellery

    I have seen head-to-toe black punk princesses, demure ladies in elaborate clothing, and everyday plain Janes find happily ever after. Dress according to your unique personality, and stay within your budget. Choose fashion items that accentuate your lovely assets, and skilfully tuck away any problem areas. Extra brownie points if your are adorned in attractive colours.

    Click below for fantastic inspiration from popular culture and literature.

  • current events,  fashion


    Happy weekend, lovely people of the internet! I’d like to touch on something I read about recently regarding the ever-divisive item of clothing: leggings. A mother of four sons expressed outrage at the fashion industry for popularising leggings, thereby allowing women to “expose their nether regions.”

    ↑ Image above: I was travelling several years ago in Seoul, South Korea. I absolutely adored those skinny fit legging jeans, but I no longer fit into this shape. I will discuss flattering looser-fitting alternatives below.

    According to Apple dictionary, leggings (noun) are:

    Tight-fitting stretch trousers, typically worn by women or girls.

    Being a student of design and a keen observer of fashion for about 10 years now, I would also define leggings as:

    1) Bottoms that tend to have no back pockets.

    2) Made of noticeably thinner stretch fabric than other types of bottoms such as jeans or tailored trousers. (Although there is a fine line between leggings and denim leggings, which are basically a hybrid between denim and leggings).

    I myself am part of the generation that popularised spandex leggings as part of an everyday wardrobe. I used to wear them with long tank tops that covered my bottom. But I’ve come to realise that leggings only flatter figures that are long and slim. With time and age, my figure has gone from pretty skinny to fairly healthy, and I’m very glad to have outgrown these unforgiving and slightly scandalous garments.

    Here are three kinds of trousers that are not leggings, which have become wardrobe staples of mine:

    1. Tailored trousers

    2. Relaxed trousers

    3. Straight-leg jeans

    I believe the popularity of tailored trousers in the past 50 years was made possible by the advent of polyester. Polyester is an affordable, lightweight and no-stretch synthetic material. They are ideal in trousers because they are long-wearing and retain their shape well. However, the downside of polyester is that it is derived from petroleum, a finite, less sustainable resource. Viscose (also known as man made silk) is a comparable alternative.

    100% polyester tailored trousers. (A textile designer’s take: polyester garments are woven with polyester yarns. These ones like many other garments are made from the simple plain weave structure.)

    I suppose one of the reasons why leggings are favoured by female shoppers is because of how comfortable they are in the warmer months. However, other equally comfortable but much more respectable looking trousers have come into the affordable end of the fashion market. Look no further than casual, relaxed trousers made from a wide variety of natural and synthetic materials in many different fabric weights: from cotton, linen, viscose to polyester. They are different from tailored trousers in that they fit looser, and have sporty features such as a drawstring or elastic waistband.

    These 100% viscose printed ones were my favourite from last summer. (A textile designer’s take: these trousers were likely made from a fabric that was first woven from plain or bleached white yarns. Then, the pattern is likely digitally printed afterwards. Lastly, the fabric is cut and sewn into a garment.)
  • fashion,  food,  style

    Jacket Potato with a Twist

    As mentioned in the previous post, it is the Year of the Pig in Chinese culture. I thought it would be fun to go along with the pig theme, and try out some other ingredients from pigs. Lard has been used throughout culinary history; however, in recent years it has fallen out of favour with the health-conscious consumer due do its high saturated fat content. Like its animal fat cousins: beef dripping and goose fat, lard is often used to roast potatoes with.

    A recipe that sprung to mind was first lady Jackie Kennedy’s baked potato. But instead of Beluga caviar, I will opt for the poorwoman’s substitute: lumpfish caviar. I tried this recipe several months ago, but this time I’m going to coat the potatoes with lard instead of oil.

    For these jacket potatoes with a twist, you will need:

    (serves one)

    1 baking potato 
    1 tablespoon lard
    50g tin of lumpfish caviar
    200g pot of crème fraîche or sour cream to taste
    Sea salt to taste
    Few sprigs of chives

    1. Wash and drain potato.
    2. Prick the potato skin with a fork.
    3. Rub the potato with lard and a small sprinkling of sea salt
    4. Bake between 180-200°C for 1 hour, give or take 15 mins depending on size of potato.
    5. After it’s cooked, score a cross on the potato, and top with lashings of crème fraîche, lumpfish caviar and chives.

    Plating up my little potato. I’m about to be a couch potato EATING an actual potato.

    A perfect palette: both in a visual and gastronomic sense.

    As I’m undergoing textile design training at the moment, I use my textiles as part of my plate settings. This is one of my favourite experimental samples. It is super weird and different – woven with materials such as sponge and paper yarn. Click below for more photos and my personal tips.

  • celebration,  fashion,  home cooking

    Festive Burgundy

    It is Lunar New Year in the Asian calendar – Year of the Pig! I love this time of year – the season for gathering, cooking, and feasting with loved ones. My Nepalese friend and I made delicious deep fried soft-shell crabs, spare ribs and kale broth, and pork dumplings to celebrate with our English and Korean friends.

    ↑ Traditionally, red is an auspicious colour in Chinese culture. This holiday season, I’m donning burgundy, a cousin in the reds and purples family.

  • fashion,  photography

    Winter Pink

    As consumers, we are bombarded with visual information from hundreds of sources everyday. But I have the opposite problem that most people have – I am not easily influenced. If I wear something, it is quite likely to be an item that is tried-and-true or something from my own “fashion bucket list” that I have coveted for some time.

    Illustrating a surreal gasholder close up.

    I went to visit some of my favourite architectural structures in December. This gasholder has been converted into a park.

    Life of a short lady – forever looking up.

    Stopping traffic on a dead-end street.

  • design,  fashion

    Shoreditch Colours

    Earlier in the autumn, I visited Shoreditch on a weekend. My fascination with East London began after viewing an exhibition on the gentrification of Hackney by one of my favourite British illustrators, Lucinda Rogers.

    ↑ Photo above: When the walls decided to match my green midi skirt.

    ↑ Did you know there is an Instagram page dedicated to green plants on pink backgrounds? I learned about it from this textile designer.

    Despite being trendy and expensive, Shoreditch is not an overly formal sort of place. I love its vibrant and eclectic feel, especially the brightly graffitied walls.

    Clashing cultures: wearing a vintage Japanese haori jacket against a backdrop of contemporary graffiti

    "I'm not angry, this is just my face."

    There are many places with beautiful street art. If God willing, I’ll get to visit more of them and share them with my readers in the future.

    Photos by: Nicole Engelmann

  • art,  fashion

    Portraits at the V&A

    There’s a sort of catch-22 when it comes to social media. It can be incredibly rewarding in terms of getting our work out there and making meaningful connections with people. But it is also a little (very) distracting. However, when I do invest in time to write social media posts, I’m often pleasantly surprised by the connections and feedback I gain as a result.

    ↑ Photo above: Stairway to the stuff of art history legends.

    Recently, I had some portraits taken at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I’m so pleased to share some of my favourites here.

    I’ve been using Moleskine notebooks for quick sketches. The pages are an off-white colour, quite thin and smooth.

    I used a small A5 sketchbook for this exhibition visit. Nowadays, I tend to take photographs at the site and do my drawings at home.

    It was so nice to come out of my dark winter garments into bright spring clothes. Loved wearing this red Minnie Mouse -esque blouse.

    A completely unplanned but brilliant photo: the female gaze.
  • culture,  fashion

    Redefining Nude

    My latest project got me thinking about how flesh tones are conventionally named on the market. From art supplies to contemporary fashion, “nude” or “flesh tint” is commonly used to describe the pale, peachy skin colour among those of European origin. That is despite the fact that the Western world is becoming more and more ethnically diverse. With this shift in consumer demographics, perhaps it is time to reconsider the Eurocentric way of naming flesh tones.

    From porcelain to dark brown, “nude”  is in the eye of the beholder.

    For years, ballet dancers with darker skin tones like Eric Underwood and Chyrstyn Fentroy struggled to find ballet shoes to match their skin colours.  It really dawned on me that the limited range of nude shades is an industry-wide problem in garment manufacturing.

    Nude is not a single shade but encompassing a wide range of shades.

    ↑ How about calling this garment a bodysuit in the nude or flesh-tone range – in the shade “fawn” or “beige”? Or for those more creative “biscuit” or “latte”? Does it sound appropriate, appealing, or to some outspoken pundits on the blogosphere: virtue-signalling perhaps?

    Inspired by the discussion on skin tones, I have created some illustrations and woven samples in a beige and brown colour palette here.

    Thanks for dropping by readers. Stay cool in this hot weather, and stay woke on the topic of nudes.